Modigliani Painting Fetches $157M At Auction

by Kim Boateng Posted on May 15th, 2018

New York City, USA: A 1917 painting by Amedeo Modigliani sold for over $157 million at a Sotheby’s auction in New York on Monday, achieving the 4th-highest price for any work of art at auction but failing to set a new record for the artist.

The oil painting of a reclining unclad woman was the highlight of Sotheby’s “Impressionist & Modern Art” sale featuring Pablo Picasso works spanning seven decades, and paintings by Claude Monet, Edvard Munch and Georgia O’Keeffe.

“N* c****é (sur le côté gauche)” was one of 22 reclining unclads by the  Italian artist, Modigliani.

Sotheby’s had estimated “Nu couché (sur le côté gauche)” to sell for in excess of $150 million, which made the 1917 oil painting the highest-estimated work of art in auction history.

Sotheby’s was quick to note, while the auction was still live, that “Nu couché” had achieved the highest price of any work in the 274-year-old auction house’s history.

And in a sign of soaring prices at the art market’s highest echelons, the same work sold in 2003 for $27 million.

Modigliani shocked Europe at the turn of the 19th century with his series of 22 unclads reclining in every possible position. When the Italian-born, Jewish artist’s unclads were unveiled at a Paris gallery, police demanded that it be shut down.

In the past half-dozen years, prices for Modigliani’s works have soared, from $26 million the current owner paid for “Nu couche (sur le cote gauche)” in 2003 to as much as $170 million.

Picasso’s “Le Repos,” an image of his lover and “golden muse,” Marie-Therese Walter, sold for $40 million. It was one of 11 Picasso works that were offered Monday evening.

Claude Monet’s “Matinee sur la Seine” (Morning on the Seine), part of a lineup of river landscapes he painted while on a boat, capturing the changing light from sunrise to a lightning storm, brought in $20.6 million.

Both Munch’s “Summer Night” and O’Keeffe “Lake George with White Birch” each fetched over $11 million.

Modigliani’s painting, which had the highest pre-auction estimate at $150 million, was still well short of the record for the most expensive painting ever sold.

Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” sold last year at Christie’s for $450 million. That work carried a pre-sale estimate of about $100 million.

Other highlights included Pablo Picasso’s “Le Repos,” which achieved $36.9 million and beat its high estimate of $35 million, and Claude Monet’s “Matinee sur la Seine,” which fetched $20.55 million, at the low end of the $18 million to $25 million estimate.

Georgia O’Keefe’s “Lake George with White Birch” soared to $11.3 million, or nearly twice the high estimate, but another Picasso, “Femme au chien” estimated at $12 million to $18 million, failed to sell when no bids exceeded $11 million.

The spring auctions continue on Tuesday when Christie’s holds its Impressionist and modern art sale.

EARLIER: Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ Painting Sold For $450M At NYC auction – New York City, USA : In a bidding war that spanned nearly 20 minutes, Leonardo da Vinci’s 500-year-old ‘Salvator Mundi’ painting finally sold for a record $450 million at Christie’s auction in New York late Wednesday. It was expected to go for at least $100 million, but finally went well beyond that as bids poured in.

Christie’s tweeted that it set a world auction record for any work of art sold at auction. Officials didn’t immediately identify the buyer. Audible cheers and applause could be heard inside the Christie’s auction house in New York when bidding completed.

“‘Salvator Mundi’ is a painting of the most iconic figure in the world by the most important artist of all time,” said Loic Gouzer, co-chairman of post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s. “The opportunity to bring this masterpiece to the market is an honor that comes around once in a lifetime.”

Six years ago, art collector Robert Simon bought, for $10,000, and restored what he thought was a merely a copy of Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci’s long lost work, the “Salvator Mundi” (Italian for “Savior of the World”).

But it turns out, it was a bona fide da Vinci — one of only 15 the artist had ever created.

“Salvator Mundi”, the painting, is 26-inches-tall and shows Christ dressed in Renaissance-style robes, with his right hand in blessing as his left hand holds a crystal sphere.

Leonardo da Vinci painted it in the 1500s, but since then, it’s changed hands many times.

Once owned by King Charles I of England – who died on the chopping block – it disappeared in 1763 for over 100 years before resurfacing in London. In 1958, it was auctioned off for about $100, dropping off the grid once again for another 50 years before Simon picked it up in the U.S.

The painting to have held the record for the most paid ever at auction was $179.4 million for Picasso’s “Women of Algiers (Version O)” in May 2015.

The highest known sale price for any artwork was $300 million, for Willem de Kooning’s “Interchange,” which sold privately in September 2015.


Kim Boateng

Kim Boateng

Staff Writer

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